It’s been a hard week.
With the loss of two iconic legends in their respective fields, suicide prevention and mental health awareness have been at the forefront of people’s minds and mouths more than ever. So today I thought I’d do a post to shed some light on my own struggles with mental health and offer a few suggestions for what has worked for me to keep my anxiety at bay. I’ve always been a pretty high anxiety person, and while I like to joke my preferred coping mechanisms are wine and Ativan, this past year I’ve actually taken some concrete steps to alleviate my anxiety in a healthy way, and here’s what I’ve found helpful.
After struggling to quiet my mind enough to meditate or even practice mindfulness, I’ve found a strategy that helps to stop my racing heart in times of distress or when I get anxious. Visualization is great because it feels very concrete to me, as opposed to more abstract methods of calming. When you visualize, you picture all the things that are causing you stress and worry (mostly in the form of the toxic sludge you’re holding in your body), and then you dump all of that into some storage type container. You picture yourself shutting the container up in a very official way (I picture a treasure chest for some reason and I like to lock it up real tight, but you can use any container ranging from tupperware to a backpack even), and then dump it somewhere it can’t surface. For me, I dump it into the ocean and watch it sink. You then go on to picture yourself in your favourite place post-purging and spend a few minutes basking yourself in that location. Personally, I go to the beach in Mexico where we vacation, and feel the warmth on me, the sand between my toes, and I let all the worries melt away. I know it all sounds a little corny, but I swear, it works. When I open my eyes again, I feel calm and at peace.
Adaptogens are herbs that help to reduce stress and anxiety (more info here). Ashwagandha is my preferred adaptogen, as it’s been proven to help with stress and anxiety reduction.
I drink mine in kombucha, but you can also take supplements (purchase here). I also like magic mushrooms. Not the fun kind, but ones like reishi and cordyceps. I really think adaptogens can make a difference in your mood.
Getting a good night’s sleep is 100% the difference for me between being able to cope and not feeling emotionally stable. It’s a known fact I have a granny-esque bedtime, and if you text me after 9 pm, you won’t hear from me until 6 am. In fact, I power down long before my 9 pm bedtime. I’ve always been a light sleeper who wakes frequently in the night, but I recently found my secret weapon.
It’s called Bach’s Rescue Remedy Night spray, and it works. It’s made from flowers and tastes like poison, and I love it. I get it from Ambrosia, where I get all my supplements, and it’s relatively inexpensive. Take a spray or two (or seven if you’re me) when you go to bed, and if you wake through the night, and it instantly calms you and helps you fall back asleep.
Obviously this one is on my list. We all know by now that exercise produces endorphins and makes you feel more centered, relaxed, and happy. It seems counter-intuitive, but pushing my body to the limit is always the most relaxing part of my day. Straight up, I exercise for my mental health, not my physical. The physical is truly just an added bonus.
5. Cuddle, get outside, enjoy quality time
It’s amazing what fresh air does for the mind. When I’m feeling stressed or anxious, I go outside, even if it’s just for a minute (disclaimer: I only do this when it’s above 15 degrees because I hate the cold), and I take a deep breath. I instantly feel better. So days where I spend a few hours outdoors, especially with my kids, I feel particularly stable and happy. And days where we’re trapped inside? I make sure to get lots of cuddles, because a hug is sure to instantly calm my nerves and improve my mood.
So once again, a doozy of a post, but thanks for reading yet another novel of mine. I hope you find just one strategy you like or think might work. But most importantly, if you’re really struggling with anxiety and depression, or thoughts of suicide, please talk to someone and get help. XO